One of the main attractions at those reunions, right behind the orchard and Snake and the ghosts, was Onkel Abe himself.
The first thing you noticed about Abe Hamm, besides the fact that he’d show up in church sporting a bright orange tie under his striped bib overalls and hadn’t gotten around to shaving that morning, was that he was a lover of life. It’s not that he wasn’t religious; it’s just that he could hardly wait to get up in the morning and spread some joy around the place.This would sometimes get him in Dutch with Tante Anna, who could easily be embarrassed, being a Reisender born and bred. He’d say something a little bit out of the orthodox, like,“If Jesus was around, I bet you anything he’d be the life of the party.”
She’d tut-tut and sigh and shake her head and say,“Abe,Abe.”
He’d grin like a little kid out from under that ring of electric reddish- grey hair and repeat,“Yessir, the life of the party.”
Then she’d whisper something to him in German and he’d turn on the twinkles in his little green eyes and say,“That’s what I love about you, Sweetheart, you always keep me on the straight and narrow.” Which was an exaggeration, because as Aunt Lena had the habit of remarking, the only road Abe Hamm could ever keep on was the one that was paved with good intentions.